Progressive-Left Jews and the European Union

The progressive-left is in denial and no part of the progressive-left is more in denial than the western Jewish left.

My central thesis at Israel Thrives is the following:

The progressive movement, and the activist base of the Democratic Party, creates and supports venues that demonize and defame the Jewish state, thereby also creating hatred toward the Jewish people.

Such venues include political journals, such as, but not limited to, Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, and the UK Guardian, numerous universities throughout the United States and Europe, various NGOs with an anti-Israel agenda, and the entire progressive-left movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction (BDS) the Jewish people of the state of Israel.

These venues and organizations do not generally criticize Israel, but dehumanize that country.

For this reason, among others, the progressive movement, and the activist base of the Democratic Party, undermines the well-being and safety of Jews around the world, sometimes resulting in violence toward us.

Therefore, as a matter of common sense and basic human decency, Jews should leave the progressive movement and the Democratic Party as we seek to build alternative political structures that are not home to toxic anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, who would see us robbed of self-determination and self-defense.

Now, I am either correct in the above assertions or I am not.  When I discuss the problem of the acceptance of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism within the western progressive-left among my left-leaning Jewish friends they almost always seek to minimize the problem.  My most concise assertion is that the progressive-left, as a movement, has betrayed its Jewish constituency through its acceptance of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism as part of the larger coalition.

The typical response that I get, however, from my progressive-left Jewish friends – who know that I was once a participant in the liberal, pro-Democratic party Daily Kos blog – is that Daily Kos and these netroots blogs are entirely fringe and that we need not take them very seriously.  I am told that it is really only a very small group of far-left fringe activists who have taken up the BDS cause or anti-Zionism as part of their political package.

In response I try to explain to them that it is not merely Daily Kos, but almost the entirety of politically left-leaning blogs and journals, including the Huffington Post (which Matt and Zach at the Huffington Post Monitor write about) or the Guardian (which Adam Levick of CiF Watch writes about).

The universities throughout Europe and the United States have clearly turned against the Jewish State of Israel as they host their annual “Israel Apartheid Week” celebratory hate-fests. Yale University, in fact, recently cancelled the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA) under exceedingly suspicious circumstances.  The University of Pennsylvania hosted a BDS conference last year.

But for whatever reason – reasons which I assume have as much to do with my exceedingly limited powers of persuasion, as much as anything else – I rarely can convince my left-leaning, pro-Israel Jewish friends that it is the left, itself, which has emerged as the greatest threat to the Jewish people in the west today, despite the fact that I, myself, come out of the progressive-left.

The prominent, if not hegemonic, conception of Israel within western-left organizations and venues is the notion that Israel is a racist, imperialist, colonialist, militaristic, apartheid, racist regime.  That highly negative and toxic broad-brush represents the (often unspoken) ideological background against which Israel is viewed.  The automatic assumption of Jewish guilt and wrong-doing is almost always brought to the conversation as a matter of course.

As anyone who follows the Long Arab War against the Jews can tell you, the European Union has recently busied itself with harassing Israel.  Prominent conservative columnist for the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick, put it like this:

This week the EU took three steps that together prove Europe’s ill-intentions toward the Jewish state.

First, last Friday the EU announced it is imposing economic sanctions on Israel. The sanctions deny EU funds to Israeli entities with an address beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines. They also deny EU funds to Israeli entities countrywide that carry out activities beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines…

The EU’s second action was the publication Tuesday of EU foreign policy commissioner Catherine Ashton’s letter to her fellow commissioners informing them that by the end of the year, the EU will publish binding requirements for specially labeling Israeli goods produced by Jews beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines exported to EU member states…

The EU’s third act was its decision to define Hezbollah’s “military wing” as a terrorist organization, but leave all the other Hezbollah-related institutions untouched. While the move has been applauded by Israeli politicians desperate to deny Europe’s animosity, Europe’s partial designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist entity is another act of aggression against Israel.

Whatever anyone may think of the indomitable, and sometimes controversial, Ms. Glick, there is no question that the European Union has done precisely what she claims that they have and that those actions are anti-Israel on their face.  The economic sanctions are limited almost entirely to Jewish people.  Period.  Yet they exempt NGOs that further EU anti-Israel political interests within Israel, proper, and within Judea and Samaria, the traditional Jewish homeland.  Furthermore, the EU has taken no such actions against China, despite the Chinese occupation of Tibet, nor against Turkey, despite its occupation of Northern Cyprus.

Furthermore, Defining Hezbollah’s “military wing” as a terrorist organization, while exempting its “political wing,” which directs its “military wing,” was an act of terrific cowardice – one might even say “pussitude,” but I will not do so.

So, I have to ask my progressive-left Jewish friends, is the European Union, much like anti-Zionist denizens in the bowels of a place like Daily Kos, merely a bunch of irrelevant, fringe lunatics?

I suspect not.

I feel reasonably certain that the very last thing in this world that the European Union is, is fringe.

So can we finally, at long last, dispense with the notion that anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, and friends, represent some fairly irrelevant fringe within the darkest cob-webbed corners of non-consequential political blogs?

As I wrote in January of 2010:

The liberal-progressive movement in the United States and Europe is forcing liberal Jews to make some very difficult choices. The voices who dominate the I-P discussion on the left are telling liberal Jews that they must make a choice; they can support Israel or they can support the progressive movement, but they cannot support both. This is rarely stated explicitly, of course, but it is the implication embedded in the never-ending disdain and contempt heaped upon the Jewish state by those liberals who claim to speak for human rights… even as they almost entirely ignore horrendous human rights violations by China or Russia or various African countries, not to mention the so-called Coalition of the Willing.

By any fair framing of the issues it has to become clear, by this late date, that the progressive-left, as a movement, has betrayed its Jewish constituency.  The EU is hardly right-wing.  It is, in fact, a creation of the left and it is not fringe, but central.

It is one of the major players in the world today and it is anti-Israel, if not anti-Semitic.

If you want to know what you can do about this, the very first thing that you can do is simply acknowledge it.

Check Also

Yes, truly, Israel is not Canada- Opinion

We, like you, treasure democracy, humaneness, justice, and civil and human rights. We are not …


  1. Avery erratic presentation by the author of the 1st theme.
    All manner of terms, institutions, organisations etc. are lumped together in creating the farcical image of a certain phenomenon which culminates with the most drastic qualifications of “hatred” of the anti Semitic nature in which nobody in the political alphabet seen – mostly falsely – as being somewhere Michael Lumish calls “left”, has any chance to escape. To boot, we are also told that Jews also populate all those areas. In their case, those Jews are , seemingly, dominated by the same hatred for Israel, Zionism in general and they are complicit in a massive, comprehensive assault against the Jewish State.
    Progressive is unqualified, so is left, seemngly clear anti Zionist NGO are in bed with major US Universities etc.
    A very badly conceived opion.

    The second item is even worse.
    EU has done Israel a great favour by proscribing Hezzbolah’s military wing. This way EU has given green light in principle to Israel to deal with the most important part of its structure in the way Israel sees necessary and by force. What could possibly be wrong with that from Israel’s position !!Even Hezbollah noticed that aspect and they are livid.

  2. Excellent and to the point. I have been saying for years the mainstream Left is anti-Semitic, not just the far Left. The only way Jews can stay in the Left is to sink into self-loathing or engage in the most pathetic denials, the latter results in severe cognitive dissonance, what we can call a kind of Dershowitz Syndrome. I have seen it with other so-called pro-Israel Jewish people who are still Leftist, and then say something in support of Israel, and then something that undermines that support in the same breath. Includes the British journalist Nick Cohen and writer Howard Jacobson.

    The thing is we need to make it clear to Left-wing pro-Israel Jews that they don’t have to become conservative in any shape or form, they can just leave the Left, be apolitical. If I don’t go to the synagogue I don’t have to embrace atheism. There is something in human psychology that sees people feel the need to be attached or show allegiance to one group or its opponents. To lose themselves in some crowd… There is the problem.

    Also not only the EU btw, the Jew-hate Obama administration is hardly fringe. If anything you are too soft on so-called pro-Israel liberal Jews. They are actually complicit in the war against Israel, by lending the Left credibility (if so many Jews are liberal, how can the Left be anti-Semitic?).

    • Lawrence, I too believe the progressive Jews are complicit in undermining Israel. They are the ones rushing to do interfaith with Islamists disguised as moderates, remaining silent when these islamists issue press releases denouncing Israel , as happend last year when the Islamic Council of Victoria condemned Israel’s “wanton attack on the Palestinian people” . Yet not a peep from the Jewish interfaith partners, even when the media relase alleged “Israel is an illegal occupier of Palestinain land…it is an occupying force that has been indiscriminately murdering Palestinians without any reasonable excuse of jusification”.

      It’s way past time for all decent Jews with withdraw from interfaith with extremist, anti-Israel Muslims and Christians and choose to dialogue only with Muslims and Christians who are prepared to act in good faith and not demonise Israel and the Jews.

  3. Michael, I have to agree with your assessment of the progressive left, a movement I too was part of until I realised that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism was part of their agenda – an agenda which I could not accept. At one time it was entirely consistent with socialist principles to support Israel, but that changed after 1967, when Israel won an unexpected victory in its defensive war against Arab aggressors. Suddenly Israel was no longer the underdog and the anti-Semitism (which was no doubt already existing within labour ranks) was unleashed iwith a venom and fury that is still hard to comprehend.

    Sadly many Jews and Christians.have abandoned Judaeo-Christian values of truth, justice and equality to jump on the progressive bandwagon. In Australia we have legions of prominent Jews in the media, entertainment industry, academia, the legal profession and of course the rabbinate, who have abandoned their moral compaass, and in return gained kudos and career advancement by joining the anti-Israel brigade.

    • Pam, I remain dumbfounded that left-leaning Jews can support a president of the United States that supported the Muslim Brotherhood. I just do not understand how they can possibly justify it.